May 3, 2015

What Do You Want Out of Life?

There is a scene in the final moments of Meet Joe Black in which Anthony Hopkin’s character, William Parrish, knowing that he will face death in a few short hours, gives a speech to those attending his 65th birthday party.

“I thought I was going to sneak away tonight.  What a glorious night.  Every face I see is a memory.  It may not be a perfectly perfect memory. Sometimes we had our ups and downs.  But we’re all together – you’re mine.  For a night.

And I’m going to break precedent and tell you my one candle wish.  That you would have a life as lucky as mine, where you can wake up one morning and say, “I don’t want anything more”.

Sixty-five years.  Don’t they go by in a blink?”

William Parrish 65th Birthday Speech

Meet Joe Black Speech

What Would It Take for You to Say the Same?

Lately, I’ve been thinking: What would I need to achieve in my life to be able to say the same thing?  What would it take for me to wake up and say, “I don’t want anything more”?

I’ve narrowed it down to a few things and, as I do, I am reminded of a line in the 1970-something edition of “The Intelligent Investor” wherein Benjamin Graham remarked, “criteria based upon adjectives are necessarily ambiguous”, a warning that has stayed with me since my early twenties.  But qualitative matters win in this department even if they are hard to quantitatively measure.

The Agenda:

  • To enjoy myself, have control over my time, and spend my life with people I like, admire, and trust
  • To grow myself and the family richer every day as gold flows into our bank accounts from our ever-expanding collection of high-quality investments.  This is achieved without using much, if any, debt.  In addition to providing the cash for charitable donations, this pays for all of the trappings of wealth; the best clothes, cars, houses, jets, hotels, art, and furniture.  There is “a number” but it is private.
  • To create beautiful and excellent things – buildings, products, companies, music, and experiences – that represent a body of work upon which I am proud to inscribe my name
  • Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
  • To make people’s lives better, easier, and more enjoyable
  • To advance the civilization; plant trees that I have no chance to sit under myself

What do you want?  What would it take for you to be able to say the same thing at the end of your life?  That you have everything you could have ever wanted and desire nothing more? No one can answer that except you. Don’t let society tell you what you should want, nor your family nor your own expectations. Deep down, what do you want?

  • crabhooves

    My biggest regrets in life aren’t the things I had or didn’t have, I’ve always regretted the experiences I didn’t have. If I can die with a broad and deep range of experiences then I will be happy. I also hope to do a lot for animal rights and social justice. Having financial independance and control over my own time are good bonuses, but not essentials.

  • Elisabeth

    Good list. Your work ethic makes it possible. I think we often start with goals and later realize it’s the journey to those goals that makes our lives better (and the lives of those around us). Thanks for sharing.

  • Jie Yang

    great article